The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
Lane County Commissioners OK Tourism Taxes To Renovate Fairgrounds and Build New Sports Venue
The Lane County commissioners approved an increase on two taxes on Tuesday that could provide funding for a new baseball stadium, possibly keeping the Eugene Emeralds in Eugene and renovating the fairgrounds.
The board of commissioners unanimously approved a 2% increase from 8% to 10% in Lane County’s hotel tax, and a 2% increase from 10% to 12% in its car rental tax. Money generated from those taxes must be spent on tourism and infrastructure. That funding allocation may include a complete renovation of the Lane County Fairgrounds, which might possibly also include a new venue to house the Emeralds.
It has not yet been determined how the additional tax revenue would be spent. Although the board of commissioners voted unanimously to increase taxes to support infrastructure, there is debate over what to spend it on. There is strong support for a baseball stadium, without which the Emeralds will be forced to leave Eugene. There is also strong support for a different multi-use venue to host winter sports and youth activities.
Estimates for a new baseball stadium are between $60 and $80 million, not including the fairgrounds renovation. The Emeralds would pitch in $13 million, $7 million or more would come from the state. A new sports facility is estimated to cost between $50 and $60 million. The new tax increases will go into effect on January 1, 2023. Money for any sports venue project would likely be available through bonds.
About 20 people testified before the vote by Lane County commissioners. About half wanted a complete renovation of the Lane County Fairgrounds, including a new stadium for the Eugene Emeralds that could also be used for concerts and other entertainment. The other half wanted a sports facility for track and winter youth sports to be used for tournaments and to draw people from out of town.
As of September 2022, there are no estimates for when discussions about which facility to build will take place. However, the Emeralds need to have a plan for a new stadium in place in the next four months, or the 2024 season will be their last in Eugene.
Corvallis Police Respond for Pedestrian Fatally Struck by Vehicle on Highway 99
On September 27, 2022, at approximately 9:11 pm, the Corvallis Regional Communications Center received an emergency call reporting a crash involving a pedestrian that occurred on Highway 99 approximately 900 feet south of NW Circle Blvd.
The caller, who was also the driver of the vehicle that struck the pedestrian, reported they were traveling southbound at the time of the crash. Corvallis Police Department and Corvallis Fire Department personnel responded to the scene.
Upon arrival, it was determined the pedestrian was deceased as a result of the crash. The pedestrian was identified as a 48-year-old Corvallis resident, but the Corvallis Police Department will not be providing the male’s name pending next of kin notification. The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene and is fully cooperating with investigators.
Highway 99 was closed between NW Circle Blvd and NW Buchannan Ave for approximately three hours for the investigation. Members of the Corvallis Police Department Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) and Detectives responded to assist with the investigation.
Detectives are currently seeking any additional information related to the crash including unidentified witnesses. If you have any information regarding the crash, please contact Detective Derrick Samuels at 541-766-6982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Missing Salem Teen Found Dead in Willamette River
A missing teen last seen at a West Salem High School football game on Sept. 16 was found dead in the Willamette River, police said. Salem Police detectives and Polk County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a body found in the waterway at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Police confirmed on Tuesday the body matched the description of 16-year-old Zackary Brenneman. “An examination performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death as drowning,” police said in a statement.
Police said detectives are waiting for the results of other medical reports for official confirmation of identity, but said they are confident the person found is Brenneman. Detectives found no evidence of criminality or foul play.
Flyers and posters were widely circulated on social media and throughout the city, saying Brenneman was last seen at 9 p.m. Sept. 16.
Salem-Keizer Public Schools communications officials said they cannot comment on the case as it relates to the ongoing investigation of the night Brenneman went missing.
Cedar Creek Fire Update
As of 5:30 AM, there are currently 1,366 firefighting personnel working to contain the #CedarCreekFire. The fire is now 114,999 acres and 20% contained. Resources assigned include: 32 Engines 30 Handcrews 5 Dozers 29 Masticators 9 Helicopters 3 Air Attack Platforms
Eric Hendrickson, Public Information Officer Check out continuing coverage of the fire here on Facebook. To check out our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/c/CedarCreekFire
Valley River Center Hosting Hiring Fair on Saturday For Seasonal Retail Work
The Valley River Center is hosting a hiring fair Saturday for those interested in seasonal retail work.
The on-site holiday hiring fair will be conducted at the mall’s Center Court from noon to 2 p.m., according to a news release.
There are open positions across all retailers at Valley River Center, including Bath & Body Works, Champs, Cotton On, JCPenney and Forever 21.
Those interested in season work at Valley River Center stores should bring their resumes, if they have them. Valley River Center is at 293 Valley River Center.
Attention OHP members: If you got a bill in the mail, keep the bill and figure out if you need to pay. OHP members should NOT pay for services that OHP should cover. Find out more at bit.ly/ohpbills.
Bend Police Seek Public’s Help To Identify Human Remains
The Bend Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying human remains found last month in the Deschutes River north of Archie Briggs Road.
On Saturday, August 27th, Bend Police officers responded and learned that a juvenile had been swimming in the river when she found what appeared to be human bones underwater.
Officers recovered the remains, then contacted Bend Police detectives and the state medical examiner’s office, which confirmed the remains were human.
On Sunday, August 28th, the Deschutes County Search & Rescue dive team searched the area of the Deschutes River and located additional human bones. The remains are believed to be from one individual, likely an adult. They are believed to have been in the water for more than a year.
The skeletal remains have been taken to the state medical examiner’s office for possible DNA identification, but no identification has yet been made.
If you have information about a missing person, you are asked to call the nonemergency dispatch line at 541-693-6911.
Oregon PUC Approves Revised Rules to Better Protect Customers at Risk of Utility Service Disconnection
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently approved rule revisions intended to strengthen protections for low-income energy customers at risk of service disconnection due to nonpayment. These rules are specific to Oregon’s investor-owned energy utilities, including Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, Idaho Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural, and Avista. The PUC approved the following:
- Changes to the rule defining disconnection of service to ensure vulnerable populations are protected
- Adjustments to the language defining what actions a utility has to take before disconnecting a customer that offers to pay cash at the door
- Waiving select charges for low-income customers
- Extension of the period of time required to notify customers of a disconnection of service due to nonpayment
Disconnection of Service — The PUC approved changes to the rule to postpone the disconnection of service any time a temperature of less than 32 degrees is forecasted during the colder months of November through March or when a winter storm warning is in effect. The previous rule required a pause in disconnection only if a high temperature of less than 32 degrees was forecasted, which did not take into account very cold days that may have a high that reaches 32 degrees. The rule now also indicates utilities are unable to disconnect service for nonpayment when a customer is under certain wildfire evacuation notices and when the air quality index is at or above 100. Utilities can now only disconnect service between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. to allow for same-day reconnection of service for customers.
Paying Outstanding Bills to Avoid Disconnection – The previous rule allowed energy utilities, when arriving at a home to disconnect service due to an outstanding bill, to collect a reasonable partial payment of the overdue balance at the door to prevent disconnection. The rule now requires that any energy utility with a policy not to accept payment at the door be required to notify customers of the options available to pay the outstanding balance and be provided at least 24 hours to make the payment.
Waiving Select Charges for Low-Income Customers – The PUC approved changes to the rule to prohibit utilities from imposing late payment charges and collecting deposits. Additionally, select reconnection fees will also now be waived for qualifying low-income customers.
Disconnection Notice Extension – Utility customers at risk of disconnection are now required to receive notification from their utility service provider at least 20 days in advance of a disconnect. This change to the rule provides customers more time to prepare for a pending disconnection and ability to pay the outstanding balance to avoid disconnection.
“We appreciate the efforts of PUC Staff, utilities, and stakeholders who were very involved in the process of updating these rules,” noted Mark Thompson, PUC Commissioner. “This is a good step forward in improving the protections that are afforded customers experiencing financial and other difficulties. These updates reflect the need to change business as usual to better recognize the fact that people rely on their utility services to sustain life, while still providing for an orderly way to terminate services only where that becomes absolutely necessary.”
Customers with questions about billing or utility service can contact the PUC’s Consumer Services Team at 800-522-2404 or email@example.com.
The PUC regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities, including Portland General Electric, Idaho Power, Pacific Power, Avista, Cascade Natural, and NW Natural. The PUC also regulates landline telephone providers and select water companies. The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregonians have access to safe, reliable, and fairly priced utility services that advance state policy and promote the public interest. We use an inclusive process to evaluate differing viewpoints and visions of the public interest and arrive at balanced, well-reasoned, independent decisions supported by fact and law. For more information about the PUC, visit oregon.gov/puc.
Pacific Power Incentives Charge Customers’ Shift to EVs as National Drive Electric Week Approaches
Electric vehicle charging equipment rebates, power cost discounts, and infrastructure investments reduce barriers to adoption
PORTLAND, OR—September 27—Pacific Power is supporting customers making the shift to electric vehicles with valuable incentives as National Drive Electric Week approaches.
Drivers looking to go gas-free can access discounts on the price of electricity for vehicle charging, newly available home charging equipment rebates, and a larger array of EV infrastructure across the Pacific Power service territory.
“When you look over the life of a car, the total cost of ownership is now lower for an EV than a gas-powered vehicle,” said Kate Hawley, Senior Product Manager at Pacific Power.
Drivers electrifying their vehicles can take advantage of the following incentives:
- Residential Pacific Power customers can get $500 to $1,000 toward installing an at-home charger, depending on income level
- Business and multifamily property owners (apartment complexes) can get up to $3,000 per port
- We also offer EV drivers deep discounts in the way they pay for electricity through an incentive called Time of Use.
We’re also investing big dollars in electric vehicle mobility for Oregon communities, especially in underserved and rural regions — more than $2.5 million to date. Pacific Power E-Mobility Grants have helped communities purchase e-bikes in Corvallis, electric tractors in Prineville, an electric school bus in Bend, an EV and charger for a health clinic in Portland. We’ve also installed fast charging stations in Bend, Klamath Falls, Madras, Otis, and Mill City.
“With our work in expanding our service territory’s charging infrastructure, we are making EV ownership and operation more accessible to customers,” Hawley said.
How much would going electric save you? See what savings are available in your area based on your average mileage, energy use, budget and rebate availability with our WattPlan tool at pacificpower.wattplan.com/ev .
National Drive Electric Week raises awareness of the benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles including trucks, motorcycles, and cars. The 12th annual celebration takes place September 23–October 2, 2022. It is organized by Plug In America, Electric Vehicle Association, Sierra Club, and EVHybridNoire.
### About Pacific Power Pacific Power provides safe and reliable electric service to more than 764,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. The company supplies customers with electricity from a diverse portfolio of generating plants including hydroelectric, thermal, wind, geothermal and solar resources. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with 2 million customers in six western states. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.
Oregon Parks Officials Say High Demand For Crowded Campsites Leading To Fights And Arguments
Some Oregon parks officials say high demand for crowded campsites is leading to arguments, fistfights and even so-called “campsite pirates.”
Brian Carroll with Linn County Parks and Recreation said park rangers have had to play mediator this summer as would-be campers argue over first-come, first-served campsites at Sunnyside County Park.
“People were literally fighting over campsites,” said Carroll. “What we experienced this year was certainly a general level of increased frustration and anxiety of people not being able to get their campsite. There seems to be less general common courtesy going on.”
Tensions also escalated over reserved campsites, with some recreationists wrongly claiming already-reserved sites by tearing off the reservation tags and replacing them with their own, prompting the nickname “campsite pirates.” The original parties end up angry and confused when they arrive to find their campsite occupied. The practice isn’t common, but it’s happening more than it used to, Carroll said.
“In the past, it was extremely rare,” he said. “Have there been disputes? Yeah, you know that happened previously. But like I said, not on the scale that we saw this year.”
Sunnyside County Park isn’t the only place experiencing such woes. Earlier this year, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said it would seek legislation to give rangers added protection because of the increasing level of assaults and harassment targeting rangers.
“Traditionally about 1% of our visitors really struggle with complying to rules and regulations,” said Dennis Benson, recreation manager for Deschutes National Forest. “Now, we’ve got more like 10% of the population that doesn’t comply or adhere with rules, regulations, those kinds of things, which is lending itself to more problematic behaviors on public lands.”
Oregon’s state park system has opened just three new campgrounds since 1972, though the state’s population has increased dramatically.
Last year, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department set records for its total numbers of visitors — an estimated 53.6 million day visits and 3.02 million campers who stayed overnight. This year’s numbers are about the same, state Parks and Recreation Department associate director Chris Havel said.
“This summer we’ve been extremely busy, at 96% to 98% capacity, which basically means you might find a night here or there, but basically everything is taken,” Havel said. “What we’re noticing again this year is that it’s a lot of people new to camping and the outdoors in general. In other words, the trend that we saw start during the pandemic of people coming out for the first time is continuing, and that means we’re going to stay busy.”
USDA Oregon Farm Service Agency Is Hiring Additional Loss Adjusters
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is currently accepting offers from individuals interested in providing contracted crop adjusting services throughout Oregon for the 2023 crop year. Loss Adjuster applications for the 2023 crop year are due November 1, 2022, to the Oregon FSA State Office.
Loss Adjusters perform crop loss and related program services as assigned by FSA. Duties associated with these services include: 1) visiting farms to inspect damaged or destroyed crops; 2) appraising potential crop production; 3) determining and verifying the cause and time of loss; 4) determining farm-stored production; 5) visiting FSA offices and/or farms to perform inspections, reviews or other loss services.
Starting pay for new adjusters is $20.22 per hour. A pay raise to $22.55 per hour is contingent on satisfactory completion of a full certification on at least one crop. Training pay is $15.00 per hour. Most equipment necessary to perform loss-adjusting activities is provided by FSA. Mileage and per diem will be paid by FSA; however, contracted adjusters are expected to provide their own mode of transportation.
Applications should be sent to the Oregon Farm Service Agency State Office, Attention: Sarah Hanlon, 7620 SW Mohawk St., Tualatin, Oregon, 97062. All applications postmarked by November 1, 2022, will be reviewed and selections made based on work experience, agriculture background, availability, and the need for loss adjusters in the area. As part of the contract process, Loss Adjusters must pass a required fingerprint background check.
Click here to obtain a copy of the Oregon FSA Loss Adjuster Application Form.✎ EditSign✎ EditSign✎ EditSign The application form can also be obtained by contacting the Farm Service Agency State Office at 503-692-3688. For further assistance or information please contact Sarah Hanlon at 503-404-1116.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
This is just a small compilation of missing women and their pictures in the area. There are of course women missing all over Oregon and men and children missing too. We don’t mean to dismiss that, however, there is an inordinate amount of women who go missing each week and there could possibly be a connection with an anomaly or two here and there. Sadly most of them never get any attention. Family and friends must keep any information going and lead investigations so that they aren’t just forgotten.